Posts Tagged ‘Rules’

August 17th, 1971

Tuesday, August 17th, 1971


Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Tuesday, August 17, 1971

Zen Mountain Center

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 71-08-17 Part 1

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 71-08-17 Part 2

In—in my lecture, sometime I say everyone has buddha-nature, and whatever you do, that is, you know, Buddha’s activity, I say.  But on the other hand, I say you must follow the rule, and when you practice zazen you should practice in some certain way:  Keep your spine straight, cross your legs, and pull your neck as if you are supporting something.  And pull in your chin.  There are many, you know, instructions.


So you will be confused when I say, you know—it looks like contradiction to say to rule—to put emphasis on rules and to follow our schedule.  If it is—if whatever you do that is, you know, Buddha’s activity, then why we must have rule?  This kind of, you know, question you may have.


The other—the other day, I said long bamboo is Buddha—long Buddha.  Short bamboo is short Buddha [laughs].  And my statement discouraged [laughs] some sincere students, didn’t it?  As if I am talking about something—as if I am encouraging some, you know, easy way.  And—for an instance, you know the Sun-Faced Buddha and the Moon-Faced Buddha.  When he is sick, he is Moon-Faced Buddha.  When he is healthy he is the Sun-Faced Buddha.  And when it is hot, we are hot—we should be hot Buddha.  When it is cold, we should be cold Buddha.  This kind of statement invite many misunderstanding.


February 27th, 1971

Saturday, February 27th, 1971


Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Saturday Morning, February 27, 1971

San Francisco

 Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 71-02-27

The purpose of our practice is, of course, to maybe to have full enlightenment.  Why we cannot have enlightenment is because of our, you know, delusion or mumyō,[1]  we say.  Or—because we are not—we don’t have clear picture of this world, or we do not have eyes to see, you know, clearly, to see clearly, or to have clear understanding of this world.  That is, you know, so-called-it called mumyōMumyō is delusion.  Mu is “no.”  Myō is “clear.”  “No clear light.”


We are—maybe we are—we Buddhist or we student or someone, you know, who do not have clear eyes to see, you know, what is the true way—which way to go [laughs].  So naturally you are wondering about, you know, to find out some truth, or to have—because you are wondering about, so you want to have some clear map, you know, which way to go.  And that is why you must have teacher who, you know, give you some map or some instruction or which way to go.


Even though you have map, if you have a map or, you know, and you have teacher, there is still, you know, difficulty in your practice.  The difficulty may be, you know, you have no—if you have—if you—as long as you trust your teacher, you know, you don’t have to worry about the way, you know, you take.  But because you have, you know, no worry, you know, you, you know, you are liable to, you know, to see something else, you know, because you have—you don’t have to, you know, try to find out which way you should take.  So you just follow [laughs] your teacher.  When he goes fast, you go fast, and when he goes slow, you go slow.


February 7th, 1971

Sunday, February 7th, 1971

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


February 7, 1971

Sunday Afternoon or Evening

San Francisco

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 71-02-07


This morning I said you must find yourself in each being.  That is actually what Tōzan [Ryōkai]-zenji said:  Don’t try to seek yourself.  Don’t try to figure out who is you.  “You” found out in that way is far away from real you.  He is not anymore you.  But if I go my own way, wherever I go, I see myself.  You know, if you, you know, take your own step, it means bodhisattva way.  Wherever you go, you will see yourself. You will meet with yourself.  And, he says, the image you see in the water when you want to figure out who is you is not you, but actually just what you see in the water is you yourself.


In Sandōkai we have same statements:  You are not him, and he is you, you know [laughs].  It is paradoxical, you know.  It is to catch your mind, they use some paradoxical, you know, statement like this.  You are not him, but he is you.  It means that when you try to figure out who is you, even though you see yourself in the mirror, he is not you.  But if you just see your, you know, figure in the mirror, without any idea of, you know, trying to figure out what is you—  Why it is not you when you figure out who is you [laughs] is, you know [laughs], because of your self-centered mind, you know, limited mind, you cannot see.


A self-centered, you know, practice doesn’t work [laughs].  You know, if you try to attain enlightenment, or if you want to be some great Zen master, you cannot be actually great Zen master.  When you don’t try to be so, you know, or before you try to do so, or before you practice our way, you are buddha.  But because of your limited practice, self-centered practice, even though you practice your way, you cannot have real practice.  You will miss, you know, yourself, lose yourself in small, self-centered practice.


August 16th, 2nd Talk

Sunday, August 16th, 1970
Suzuki-roshi in the old Tassajara zendo

Suzuki-roshi in the old Tassajara zendo

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


Sunday, August 16, 1970

San Francisco

Lecture B

 Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 70-08-16B

[This is the second of two lectures with this date.  This lecture began mid-way on Side A of the original tape after a prior lecture ended.  This lecture appears to be complete. The transcription is not verbatim because the audio recording has problems.]


The meaning of our practice [is compassion?] way of life—way of life, or your life …  [inaudible] …  because you like to sit on the floor more …  [next few paragraphs inaudible].  Instead of sitting on chair, Buddha said please sit down here and relax and talk more with calmness of mind and ______ carefully.  Let’s sit on the ground or floor.  It is of course easy or convenient to live on chair.  If you sit on the floor, you should adjust yourself to the ground and you should make effort, physical effort, to sit down, to stand on the floor.  If you use chair there is not much ___________ in sitting or in standing up.  Moreover, you have wheels.  I am very interested in the chair with wheels [casters?].  It is very easy to fall.  I thought it was too convenient.  In that way we will become, we will lose our faculty of adjusting ourself to the nature.


Recently, maybe the basic idea of our way of life, basic thought, or philosophy of our modern life is to conquer nature.  And another element will be to develop our desires.  To achieve something, and to gain something by something may be like (war) …  when that something develops some technique to conquer nature, so …  to extend our _____________, to conquer nature.  Instead of adjusting our self to the nature or appreciating nature, or to become one with nature.  We, most of the people, I think, you realize already how human beings have been living in this world, that may be ________ ________.  But one more thing that is missing is how we should develop our desires.  That will be the ________ _________, and maybe already realize that we have to go back to a more primitive way of life than civilized way of life.  That is what we have realized already.  But, here there is something which is—which our long practice suggests.  That is how we adjust ourselves to that nature.  Here there is something which our Zen practice suggests—that is how we adjust our self to that nature.  Nature … [inaudible] …  And which direction our desires should be directed.


July 4th, 1970

Saturday, July 4th, 1970
Suzuki-roshi and Katagiri-roshi at a Precepts Ceremony at City Center

Suzuki-roshi and Katagiri-roshi at a Precepts Ceremony at City Center

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


Saturday, July 4, 1970


 Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 70-07-04

[This lecture is concerned with the following lines of the Sandōkai:


          Koto wo uke te wa subekaraku shū wo esu beshi.

          Mizukara kiku wo rissuru koto nakare.

          Sokumoku dō wo ese zumba,

          ashi wo hakobu mo izukunzo michi wo shiran.

(Transliteration by Kazuaki Tanahashi.)


If you listen to the words, you should understand the source of
the teaching.

Don’t establish your own rules.

If you don’t practice in your everyday life as you walk,

how can you know the way?

(Translation by Suzuki-rōshi.)]



Tonight and tonight lecture and one more lecture will be the last concluding lecture for Sandōkai.


And here it says Koto wo uke te wa subekaraku shū wo esu beshi.  Koto means “the first character.”  We read from this side, you know:  Koto wo—  Koto?  Koto wo uke te waKoto means “words.”  Uke te wa:  “to receive” or “to listen to”; “to receive,” you know.  This is something like “hand,” you know.  The same type [?] character—”to receive.”  If you receive words, it means that if you receive teaching, you should—subekaraku—you should—subekaraku—shouldyou should.


Shū wo—shū is “source of the teaching”—shū—source of the teaching which is beyond our words.  Esu beshi is “to have actual understanding of it.”  So if you listen to the words, you should understand—e—understand— shū—source of the teaching.  Usually we, you know, stick to words, and it is difficult, because we stick to words, it is difficult to see the true meaning of the teaching.  So we say, “words or teaching is finger pointing at the moon.”  If you stick to the finger pointing at the moon, you cannot see the moon.  So words is justto suggest the real meaning of the truth is the words.  So we shouldn’t stick to words, but we should know actually what the words mean.


At his time, you know, at Sekitō’s time, many people stick to wordsor each one’s, each Zen masters [taught] personal characteristic of Zen.  Each masters had, at that time, their own way of introducing the real teaching to the disciples.  And they stick to some special teacherssome particular way, so Zen was divided in many schools, and it was very hard to the student [to know], “Which is the true way?”  And actually, to wonder which is the true way is already, you know, wrong.  Each was, you know   Each teachers is suggesting the true teaching by his own way, so each teachers, you know, true  Each teachers is suggesting same truthsame source of the teaching which was transmitted from Buddha.  Without knowing the source of the teaching, to stick to words was wrong, and actually that was what the teachers at his [Sekitō’s] time was doing, or students’ way of studying Zen.


January 18th, 1970

Sunday, January 18th, 1970

Suzuki-roshi at Tassajara

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


Sunday, January 18, 1970 

San Francisco

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 70-01-18

In Japan now it is a season of typhoon.  And recently, on the 16th, a typhoon arrived at San Francisco from Japan [laughs, laughter].  And now typhoon has left San Francisco to Tassajara [laughs, laughter].  Now it is the time when we have clear, blue sky again.  Typhoon was so strong that I stayed in bed for two, three days [laughs, laughter].  I think you are also stayed in bed [laughs, laughter].


Each time some—at first, I came to America alone.  And two years after, my wife came.  And I had to share some difficulty we had—I had when I arrived San Francisco and culturally where I experienced cultural shock, you know [laughs].  And I had to share the same experience with my wife again, two years after.  Whenever someone come from Japan, I have to share, you know, the excitement and difficulties they have, you know.  That is not so easy [laughs]—always to have same experience and renew the difficulties and excitement again.


When Dōgen-zenji went to China as a Japanese priest—when you read Hōkyō-ki,[1]  I think you will have some different understanding [that] I have now—which we have now—I have now.  When he went Tendō monastery, which was a famous big monastery, he was given a seat in monastery.  Maybe, as he was a Japanese, he—his seat was last seat of the zendō.  And he immediately, you know, express the complaint [laughs] to the monastery, you know:  “I am a quite old Zen Buddhist.”  And in Japan and in China and everywhere, the rule is to decide the seat by the age—by the age as a Buddhist—as he joined our order.  “So I cannot be the last one.  I am a quite old Buddhist.  I was ordained when I was thirteen year old.  So I cannot be the last one.”


June 22nd, 1969

Sunday, June 22nd, 1969

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Sunday, June 22, 1969

San Francisco

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 69-06-22


Dōgen-zenji says:  “Everything is encourages us to attain enlightenment.  Mountains and rivers, earth and sky:  everything is encouraging us to attain enlightenment.”  So, of course, a purpose of lecture is to encourage—to encourage you attaining enlightenment.  So we call our lecture, you know, teishō.  Teishō means “with teaching—with kōan,” to help people to attain enlightenment.


And usual lecture—sometime to explain the context of teaching—like to explain philosophy—to understand our teaching in philosophical way is more a “lecture”—a kōwa.[1]   Kōwa is more philosophical.  And purpose of to listen to kōwa is to have intellectual understanding of the teaching.  While teishō is to encourage students to attain enlightenment, or to have perfect understanding of—to have real experience of—to have real Buddhist experience.


So same thing will be subj- [partial word]—topic of our everyday life in its ordinal [ordinary?] sense.  And same thing will be kōan [definitely said “kōan” here] to encourage—to encourage us to attain, to have direct experience of our life.  Even though you think you are studying Buddhism, actually, you are, when you are just reading, you know [laughs]—it is—it may be—it may not be true or it will not help to have direct experience of Buddhism but just intellectual understanding of it.


March 15th, 1969

Saturday, March 15th, 1969

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Saturday, March 15, 1969

San Francisco

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 69-03-15

In your zazen, perhaps you will have many difficulties or problems.  But when you have some problem, it is necessary for you to find out—try to find out by yourself why you have problem.  Before you ask someone, it is necessary for you to try to find out why.

Usually your way of study is to master it as soon as possible and by some best way.  So before you think you may ask someone why you have some problem.  But that kind of way may be very good for your usual life, but if you want to study Zen, it doesn’t help so much.

You should always try to find out what really mean by “buddha-nature” or by “practice” or by “enlightenment.”  In this way, you will have a more subtle attitude towards everything until you understand things as it is.

If you are told something by someone, naturally you will stick to something you experienced or you understand—you understood.  The moment you think you understand something, you will stick to it.  And you will lose the full function of your nature.

So when you are seeking for something, your true nature is in full activity, as if you are, you know—when you—even know what are you seeking for—like someone who is in the dark seeking for his own pillow because he lost it.  In the dark—so you don’t see anything but you’re seeking for the pillow you lost.  At that time, your mind is in full function.  So—but if you know where the pillow is, you know, your mind is not in full function.  Your mind is acting in limited sense, you know.


September 8th, 1967

Friday, September 8th, 1967

Suzuki-roshi doing rock work at Tassajara (with Phillip Wilson)

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Friday, September 8, 1967


Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 67-09-08

Tonight I want to give you a correct idea of Buddhism or Zen.  In a word, Zen is the teaching or practice of seeing “things as it is” or accepting “things as it is” and of raising things as they go.  This is the fundamental purpose of our practice and the meaning of Zen.  But it is, actually, rather difficult to see “things as it is.”  You may say you are seeing “things as it is,” but actually, you do not see “things as it is.”  I don’t mean that it is a distortion of sight, such as when something of one shape looks shorter than something of another shape.  I mean that, as soon as you see something, you already start to intellectualize it.  As soon as you intellectualize something, it is already it is not just what you saw.